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2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review

When BMW sent out invitations to the launch of its new X6, the Xdrive50i, I was a little sceptical about the particular drive route chosen for the vehicle in question.

It wasn’t that I doubted the performance on hand, I mean as Australia’s first production vehicle to feature a twin-turbo powered V8 engine the figures on the spec sheet alone looked pretty damned impressive.

Nor was it the thought that we’d run out of brakes given this X6 features 358mm discs all round plus the full house of BMW’s latest braking technology. No, this didn’t faze me in the slightest.

What was of just a slight concern to me was the fact that the roads chosen to highlight the xDrive50i’s potential were the exact ones I spend quiet weekdays riding my high-powered sports bike.

This is a place where quick changes in direction and altitude, fast runs through tight twisty turns, and breathtakingly sharp crests that fall away dramatically in to razor sharp turns are, well, let’s just say a challenge.

2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review

Surely the X6 Sports Activity Coupe with its 2190kg tare weight, higher ground clearance and 1690mm body height couldn’t possibly handle roads like this, it’s clearly a case of marketing suicide.

In a few short hours I’d eat my words, for as one of the other automotive writers on our drive day put it, “this thing handles like no SUV should”, and you know what? He’s right.

The xDrive50i sits atop the X6 tree with the six-cylinder diesel and petrol models below it respectively and is priced to rival Range Rover’s Supercharged Sport and Porsche’s Cayenne GTS in terms of bang for your buck.

But when I say rival, perhaps that’s a little unfair, perhaps trounce is more correct.

The xDrive50i is significantly quicker given the relative power similarities, it also uses less fuel than the two competitors mentioned. It’s fractionally more powerful, is lighter, and produces fewer emissions – and speaking from personal experience – also out handles the pair significantly.

2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review

The 0-100km/h run is dealt with in 5.4 seconds and if that doesn’t do it for you then perhaps the fact that the X6 will eat a kilometre from a standing start in under 25 seconds will. In fact it’d probably be quicker were it not speed limited to 250km/h.

With that kind of performance you could swear fuel consumption would be a nightmare but the average is claimed at 13.8 litres per 100km when fuelled with 98RON petrol.

Even at the hands of myself for a day the xDrive50i managed 14.4 litres on average. In theory this means a maximum cruising range of just over 600km from the 85-litre tank.

Suspension utilises a self-levelling pneumatic system with a dual traverse link set up in the front and a multi-link arrangement in the rear. The handling is incredible with sensational grip on hand through the 20-inch diameter rims (10-inch wide front/11-inch wide rear), with well weighted feedback from the steering.

Personally I’d have liked a little less in the amount of turns lock-to-lock, just to sharpen the sporty feel through tight corners, but the level of assistance offered is ideal in all situations meaning a level of enjoyment usually equated with a premium sports sedan.

2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review

But perhaps more impressive still is the combined DSC and DPC systems. Now DSC (Dynamic Stability Control – also known as ESP), as we all know, corrects a car’s positioning by applying braking to the inner wheel to regain the intended course, which depending on calibration and brand works with varying degrees of success. Needless to say on the X6 it’s terrific. But the xDrive50i boasts one more tool in the kit, one which I really found quite enjoyable.

Coupled to the DSC system is functionality known, in BMW speak at least, as DPC (or Dynamic Performance Control). Unlike regular Traction Control systems that effective cut power when lack of grip in sensed, the DPC system applies additional torque to the outside wheel when cornering to push you around the corner, and help maintain momentum.

The best analogy – and the one provided to us – was to think of it like steering a canoe. You can do it two ways. Say for example you want to go left, either you place the left oar in the water to act as a brake (DSC) or you paddle harder on the right hand side of the canoe to make the turn (DPC). Great isn’t it?

Even when trailing throttle in to a turn or suddenly releasing the throttle mid-corner (not something I’d generally advise) the DPC system maintains optimal traction to the required wheel(s) and thus maintains stability.

2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review

Perhaps most importantly of all though is what’s under the bonnet, the twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8. Developing 300kW between 5500rpm and 6400rpm the aggressive note from the twin rectangular exhaust ports certainly makes it clear as to the intent of the X6.

The pair of low inertia turbochargers spool up incredibly fast (to a peak of 175,000rpm) to apply greater purpose through the torque curve that avails 600Nm from 1750rpm all the way to 4500rpm.

As the turbochargers are mounted between the valley of the 90-degree V8 the usual turbo noise isn’t overly apparent meaning nothing but a sweet growl can be heard inside the cabin. This also better assists lateral weight distribution.

This exhilarating engine is also destined to become standard equipment in the all new 7 Series sedan when it arrives in April this year.

The six-speed automatic offers a decent spread of ratios and is very smooth of shift even under considerably heavy acceleration. Manual override is available either through the stick or via the steering wheel mounted paddles.

2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review

I did find ‘sport’ mode works best in enthusiastic driving, as you might well expect, though is let down by a slight delay on kick down when allowed to do its own thing. The best way to really enjoy the X6 is to make full use of the paddles. Faster response and a quick rev match on down shift make this a far more enjoyable option.

Cabin space is typically BMW – simplistic, elegant and comfortable. Space and support are both equally generous for the front seat passengers and as a dedicated four-seater rear passengers are afforded ample hip and shoulder room as well. Leg room is more than adequate all-round though the rear headroom is slightly diminished given the Dakar-esque rake of the roof.

Luggage capacity is a surprising 570-litres which believe it or not is 15 litres greater than Volkswagen’s Touareg. This area can be further expanded to 1450 litres by folding down the rear seats.

Sumptuous Nevada leather upholstery is standard on the xDrive50i model and can be optioned further with a perforated finish in combination with seat heating and ventilation. Four interior trim finishes are offered.

Comfort access, electrically adjustable front seats with memory, head-up display, four-zone climate control, 16-speaker six-CD stereo, automatic anti-dazzle mirrors, power windows and mirrors, Bluetooth phone connectivity, remote central locking with alarm, cruise control with speed limiter function, satellite navigation, digital TV reception, adaptive automatic headlamps, rain sensing wipers and an electronically adjustable steering column complete the standard feature list.

2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review
2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i Review

The xDrive50i offers dual front and side airbags as well as full-length curtain airbags which coupled with the extensive electronic systems and high-rigidity body cell afford the X6 a very safe package overall (not yet EuroNCAP tested – similarly spec’ed X5 models offer a five star EuroNCAP result).

In addition to the 20-inch Star spoke alloys, the xDrive50i offers subtle styling cues to differentiate it from its six-cylinder counter parts. These include the aforementioned rectangular exhaust tips as well as stain finish window surrounds, titanium coloured kidney-grilles, satin chrome side strip and of course the xDrive50i badging.

The xDrive50i is priced from $145,000 (RRP) and is available now.

  • FRUGAL–ONE

    *****PRIMO!*****

    Its a nice vehicle, and the black wheels on white body hit the spot.

    Your buying this for the performance, a lime tweaked Territory Turbo would destroy it at 1/2 the price.

    Doesnt have the badge, you can just wave as you fly by!

    Nice test C/A, ALWAYS the first to test new stuff.

    Keep them coming!

    Cheers

    F-0

  • zahmad

    Why on earth do they still have the x5?

  • Iz

    To cater for the other 80% of buyers that don’t want an X6 (and/or have the occasional extra passenger/luggage to carry) which the X5 caters for. Nearly similar driving experience, but your dog can come with and be sick too :)

    I can imagine the X6 would most definitely appeal to buyers because of just the sheer stupendousness of it. I’d fork out cash for one if I had a cool $200k laying around lol =p

  • Deano

    Frugal–One,

    Having extensively driven turbo Territory’s and the 35i X6, I think you’re mistaken there, the dynamics of the beemer defy belief given the size of the darn thing!

    Any reason you feel it necessary to mention smallgoods at the top of each post??

    DtB.

  • greenmatt

    “I mean as Australia’s first production vehicle to feature a twin-turbo powered V8 engine ” errr. previous gen Audi RS6, porsche cayenne turbo, maserati 3200gt plus others I cant remember all had twin turbo V8′s

  • HercMax

    At least the X5 has some utility in the form of luggage space and optional extra seating. This is just a big bruising sports sedan in a coupe body jacked up on high suspension. It’s worse than a comparable sedan or coupe for handling because of the high centre of gravity, and worse than a wagon or coventional bodied SUV for luggage and utility. BMW have created a car that’s the worst of both worlds.

    • MyX6Rock

      If you haven’t driven one, don’t even compare with
      other sedans in your imagination.
      I was worried when I got mine. Still I loved the look,
      I ordered it and after the first driving, I loved it even
      more. Before making any judgement see it for yourself.
      Then you will have true opinion about the vehicle.

  • MisterTwo

    I would rather have the Range Rover Sport, at least that can go off road. Driving one of these people will thing you are trying to compensate for something.

  • Alan

    I agree that this is a ridiculous concept and completely pointless. And previously i thought it’s very ugly too, but have to say this colour and wheel combination looks fantastic and is about the only good looking combination i’ve seen for X6.

    On paper, there’s no point in buying this over an x5, but cars aren’t entirely a logical purchase, i’m sure they will find people willing to fork out money for this. Having said that, i think performance SUV in general is a ridiculous idea, why not get a sports car for the weekend and a fuel efficient wagon/sedan for weekdays

  • Marcoz

    You can put all the good looking wheels you want on it, it still is AN UGLY MOTHER FING CAR…it is HORRID LOOKING…Looks like is a** had a face lift with botox…lol

  • Sam

    You might make a Territory Turbo go faster but we could all wave at you from the X6 at the first corner where the Ford will leave the road. There is not alot of cars out there that drive nicer than a new Beamer. I would love to have the keys to this baby for a few days. But, my license would be gone and the car impounded no doubt. The temptation would be too much for me. The car is clearly begging for it.

  • ScottB

    It might be a great performer but it’s still a fundamentally stupid and pointless car.

  • Allan D

    Not to sound like a killjoy, but how does a twin turbo V8 only make 300kw? :S

  • Sam

    Allan D, you can rest assured that the BMW engineers have tuned the engine so that it can deliver the performance it does for many years to come with excellent reliability and minimum servicing.

    Besides they need the torque to move the 2+ tonne, not the kw.

  • ComradeVodka

    Oh I get it, you can’t afford one so it’s stupid… right, real sense of logic there.

  • Alan

    Allan D, i believe this engine like the turbo straight 6 in 335i is tuned for better throttle reponse and minimal lag rather than big power figures. This makes it more driveable than the headline hp figure would suggest

  • ScottB

    I wouldn’t want one even if I could afford it. Its stupid because it’s a heavy and severely compromised design. They’d be better off putting that engine and drivetrain in sports car or, hell, even an estate. It’d be faster, lighter, handle even better, more fuel efficient and have more room inside. This thing is a joke, designed to separate the credulous and dumb from their money.

    Which, it has to be said, is something that seems to get easier as time goes by. Guess I can’t fault BMW in terms of the business case then…

  • Bavarian Missile (.)(.)

    Great story Matt you sound like you enjoyed evey minutite of it. ” Sport mode” yeah I dont know why they bother offering another option ,my last 535i was never out of ‘Sport mode”

    Is it pointless………….What’s pointless mean ?

    Even your average 200 series Landcruiser isnt driven the way it was manufactured too at its best………off road .How many people take a vehicle off road in a serious way thats owes them more than $60,000. Not many !

    This a a fabulous looking car,BMW have made a fast 4 seater that is aimed at similar useless car made by Porsche and Mercedes…….this I think does it in looks, power too weight and fuel economy over its rivals and with the X6M yet to released will be a real ball breaker !

    Its jaw droopingly beautiful ,its a car with the safety of all wheel drive without making too big a presence on the road. Although I would like to see it dumped !

    And all of this coming from someone that cant stand mid sized SUVs……….

    The X5 has been going for 10 strong years now and I hope will take on some of these gorgeous looks of the X6…..

    Quote Alan D
    “Not to sound like a killjoy, but how does a twin turbo V8 only make 300kw? :S

    Sam I think summed it up best ,could have used the 4 LITRE V8 out of the M3 that creates 309 kws ,but not the torque to move that sort of weight,hell knows it not because BMW cant extract more grunt out of it,they are the engine master.

    Wait around for the New X6M and Im sure that will have more grunt than youll need,although whats enough {she thinks ??} What engine they will use who knows,the current V10 from the M5 only turns out 520 NMs of torque less than the turbos here ,*she smiles as she speculates what may be done*

  • ScottB

    Jaw droppingly beautiful??? No. A Maserati GT is jaw droppingly beautiful. This….this the hunchback of Notre Dame on wheels. Its the ugliest thing this side of a Ssangyong.

    And yes, I consider all performance 4wds crap, with one exception – the recently released US F150 Raptor. Why? Because it doesn’t make any pretensions to being an onroad sports car, its sole aim is to go fast as possible off road. You know, where SUVs should be used…

  • The Realist

    I think I’ll trade in the M5 for one of these – what a beast.

    And the fact it’ll annoy a segment of the population is a plus.

  • Bavarian Missile (.)(.)

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Trade your M5 on it ? Why ? Totally different cars and to buy one to annoy others just shows just how immature you “Realist” are!

  • http://idon'tgetthisquestion Italianlover

    Looks like a beefed up X5 that’s been pummelled up the ****. Did something fall on the back tailgate? Don’t get me wrong, the Barvarian Motor Works have produced some great cars with frighteningly massive power plants, yet in all honesty I can’t get excited about this.
    And a ‘coupe’. If it’s got 4 doors, it’s anything but. I have paid good money for a nice little ‘real’ Italian coupe with just the two doors. 4 doors to me =’s either
    a) saloon
    b) sedan
    c) NOT A COUPE.
    If a coupe can have 4 doors, then wouldn’t that make every Aussie sedan really just a 4 door coupe? Oh look, there goes a Falcon / Camry / Aurion / Calais coupe!!

  • Wheelnut

    Allan D Says:
    January 23rd, 2009 at 1:37 pm
    Not to sound like a killjoy, but how does a twin turbo V8 only make 300kw? :S

    The same way a [supposedly] F1 inspired V6 only produces 200Kw

  • Bavarian Missile (.)(.)

    Take a look at the Hamann Tycoon version ,looks nothing like this ! Doesnt even resemble a SUV anymore !

  • Motorhead

    I still cant see the point of this car & who’ll buy it, Suzuki X90 owners looking to upgrade?
    It sure is a lot of money for something that looks like a Ssangyong too.

  • Mike

    It is an ugly vehicle in a niche market that doesn’t exist most likely to compete against MB niche markets. But MB look soo much better.

  • Wheelnut

    Mike – Before Merc-Benz came out with the CLS 4 Door Coupe-Saloon or Porsche with the Panamera or AM with the Rapide that market didn’t exist either.

    As for the MB looking better than the X6. The MB is more of a Sports Sedan and therefore; has a more sleek stylish and aerodymaic look.. whereas the X6 is more of a Sports Cross-Over Vehicle which is why it has a more strong somewhat bold look about it.

    They are 2 different cars aimed at 2 different markets – neither of which up until just recently ever existed

  • John

    I’m guessing that BMW has the X6 50i pegged at 300kw, so that they leave alot of room for the M Division crew too come in and weave their magic in the future. The X5 never received the M treatment IMO because of a key ingredient missing? Handling. Yes the X5 is one of the best (if not the best) handling SUV’s on the market but even then its handling is only on a par with the average RWD car, let alone the above average or extraordinary ones. The X6 is supposed to have revolutionised this area and offers true car like handling in an SUV body. (M cars have always been about the whole performance package not just standing start drags). If this is true the M division may see fit too give the X6 some special treatment in the future and we could then see the power up at 375kw – 400kw easily. Remember BMW engineers have been able too squeeze 252kw or so out of a 3.2 six from the previous gen M3 so IMO 300kw is a lowball figure and this car would be extremely tuneable!

  • Mike

    You are right wheelnut, my post was just more to point out that this thing is ugly and impractical… I dont know what I was on about with ‘niche’ markets. It will be mopped up by badge loyalists though.

  • Wheelnut

    It is a niche vehicle as [just like the merc-benz CLS] it will only appeal to a select group of buyers
    I like the look of it. I believe it looks better than the Lexus RX330 as well as the Porsche Cayenne and the dumped X6 Hamann have produced looks even better – I’d have one!

  • http://idon'tgetthisquestion Italianlover

    I agree with Mike
    ‘You are right wheelnut, my post was just more to point out that this thing is ugly and impractical… I dont know what I was on about with ‘niche’ markets. It will be mopped up by badge loyalists though’

    Money doesn’t buy taste, right?

    and Motorhead – good call on the Suzuki X90!!

  • Fasthonda

    Wheelnut said ” I believe it looks better than the………. Porsche Cayenne.”

    I agree,but what SUV/Sports sedan/AWD, doesn’t look better than the Porsche Cayenne?
    The 3.6i is the worst for looks and most likely can be beaten performance wise by a Ford Territory.

  • The Realist

    Bavarian Missile (.)(.) Says:
    January 24th, 2009 at 4:44 pm
    “Trade your M5 on it ? Why ? Totally different cars and to buy one to annoy others just shows just how immature you “Realist” are!”

    We all have our indulgences dear BM.

    Once I purchase one of these puppies I’ll park it in front of the left wing lunatics that protest outside my office every week.

  • c1ockwork

    ‘I still cant see the point of this car & who’ll buy it, Suzuki X90 owners looking to upgrade? It sure is a lot of money for something that looks like a Ssangyong too.’

    Awesome call Motorhead, and I’m in totally agreeance!

    ‘jaw droopingly [sic] beautiful’? Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder eh? (though, in the spirit of full disclosure, I own a Megane :-))

    Ugly as sin.

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